Articles Posted in Employment Law

The U.S. Soccer Federation has formally denied allegations of gender discrimination made by players of the U.S. women’s national team.

28 members of the current women’s player pool filed the lawsuit March 8 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The USSF claims every decision made “with respect to the conduct alleged in the complaint was for legitimate business reasons and not for any discriminatory or other unlawful purpose.”

The federation has maintained the differences in pay are the result of different collective bargaining agreements that establish distinct pay structures for the two teams. Those agreements are not public.

U.S. Soccer also maintained in the response that any alleged differences in pay between the men’s and women’s national teams were not based on gender, but “differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.”

The USSF and the women’s team agreed in April 2017 to a collective bargaining agreement through 2021 that gave the players higher pay and better benefits.

The federation claims the allegations do not rise to the level required for punitive damages because there is no evidence of malicious, reckless or fraudulent intent to deny the players their rights.

The lawsuit brought by current national team players is an escalation of a long-simmering dispute over pay and treatment. Five players filed a complaint in 2016 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The lawsuit effectively ended that EEOC complaint.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, as it’s illegal for an employer to pay women a different amount than their male co-workers if they are working the same job and have the same level of experience and skill. As this case shows, there are two main federal laws that make it illegal to pay women less simply based on their gender. Title VII prohibits any workplace discrimination based on sex, race, or religion. The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal for an employer to pay women a different amount for substantially similar work.

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A roofing contracting company based in Thonotosassa, Florida has paid $265,001 in back wages to 67 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found the employer violated overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The employer also paid $17,753 in civil money penalties for repeat violations.

WHD investigators found the roofing contracting company paid employees a piece rate without regard to the number of hours they actually worked. This practice resulted in violations when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, but the employer failed to pay them overtime in addition to their piece rates.

WHD also cited recordkeeping violations when the employer failed to maintain daily and weekly records of the number of hours employees worked.

If your employer is denying your overtime pay or if you work more than 40 hours in a workweek and do not see overtime on your paycheck, our Florida Unpaid Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you recover every penny you have worked for and deserve.

When you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, federal law mandates that you should be compensated at the rate of one and half times your hourly wage. Employees cannot be required to work more than 40 hours in a single week without additional compensation.

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Four women have joined the class action lawsuit alleging discrimination against pregnant and breastfeeding AC Transit employees.

The transportation agency allegedly discriminates and fails to accommodate pregnant women who work for them.

On of the women says she was offered a room where she was told she pump breast milk when she returned to work after her first pregnancy in 2016 – it was an old closet she describes as dirty and that had no privacy.

The woman left her job as a bus driver and now gets paid less as an AC Transit clerk, all so that she can pump.

Another woman says the company makes it difficult for expecting mothers. She joined the suit after she fell asleep at the wheel and crashed her bus while pregnant. She says she asked for lighter desk work prior to the accident but was not accommodated.

So far, four women in total allege that AC Transit refused to accommodate their pregnancy or lactation needs and that they are in violation of their legal rights.

AC Transit released a statement saying that they work with new mothers and value the importance of women in the workforce, and that “it is important to note, modifications of duties can present logistical challenges given the nature of public transit. However, ac transit adopts an individual process that takes into account accommodation options for each new mom and her newborn throughout the first year of life.”

Juggling a family and work is no easy feat, especially for new moms. Seeking a balance between earning money and parental responsibilities can be quite difficult. There are laws in place that protect pregnant and nursing mothers in the workplace. Workplace discrimination based on pregnancy and nursing is illegal, and our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can make sure that you know what your rights are and that they remain protected.

When your employer prevents you from pumping breast milk during work hours, it may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under FLSA, employers must provide breastfeeding mothers reasonable break time and a private space (other than a bathroom) to pump at work for one year following their child’s birth.

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Two female employees are suing Walt Disney Co., alleging the company is violating the state’s equal pay act and paying women less than men doing similar work.

The class action lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and is covering people who worked for Walt Disney Studios in roughly the last four years.

Disney said the lawsuit was “baseless.” In a statement, the company said it maintains “robust pay equity practices and policies” and has a specialized team of compensation professionals and lawyers to address the matter. “We are confident that they [the claims] will be found to be meritless when tested against the evidence, rather than the rhetoric of the complaint.”

The lawsuit was brought by Southern California Disney employees. One woman works as a manager in product development for Disney in Glendale. In 2017, she raised the issue that she was not being compensated fairly, the lawsuit said. At the time, her base salary was $109,958. Six other men who held the same title were paid $16,000 to nearly $40,000 more, according to the lawsuit. Five months after she brought up the issue, the woman said, Disney asserted that her salary amount “was not due to gender,” but in November 2018, the company boosted her pay by $25,000, the lawsuit claims. Even with the pay adjustment, the woman believes she is still making less than men doing similar work.

The other woman works as a senior copyright administrator in the Disney Music Group in Burbank. She says she was discouraged from applying for a manager position that was later changed to a senior manager role and given to a man. The lawsuit claims that “he is making significantly more than the woman even though they are both performing the same or substantially similar work.”

Our Florida Employment Law Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to helping bring about gender pay equality. There are laws in place requiring employers to pay women and men the same for equal work. These laws extend beyond salary, including bonuses and other benefits. If you are getting paid less than your male coworkers, we can help you understand your rights and achieve justice.

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A 25-year-old New York state middle school teacher has filed a $3 million lawsuit against her former employer.

She says she was fired because of a topless photo she’d sent privately to someone she was dating.

A student somehow got hold of the photo and began circulating it, but she says that’s not her fault and that she shouldn’t be punished for it.

She is now suing the South Country School District for that amount in a gender discrimination lawsuit because she was fired over the selfie last week.

She said she texted the photo to her partner at the time, another teacher in the district, more than two years ago.

She has no idea how a student was able to get a copy and share it.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this case progresses and its outcome. The main argument here is that no man would ever be fired for exposing his chest in a photograph, so why should a woman be fired for the exact same thing? Treating women differently than men in the workplace is absolutely a form of gender discrimination. No woman, or man for that matter, has to put up with gender discrimination in the workplace. Our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you seek financial compensation for wrongs you have experienced in the workplace.

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After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Crown Linen LLC – based in Orlando, Florida – will pay $60,863 in back wages to 15 employees for violations of the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators found that the employer incorrectly considered two groups of employees as exempt from the overtime requirements as managers under the FLSA. This misapplication of the exemption resulted in the employer paying overtime-eligible employees flat weekly salaries with no regard to the number of hours they worked.

This practice resulted in violations when these employees worked more than 40 hours per week and were not paid overtime. Additionally, the employer paid other employees straight time instead of overtime when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

The employer also failed to maintain required records of the number of hours employees worked.

How your employer classifies you matters a tremendous deal to your income. If you have been lumped into a managerial position you will lose out on certain benefits that other workers receive, including overtime pay. The law is crystal clear about who should be tited a manager, so if you are worried that your employer has classified you as a manager in error, you may be entitled to financial compensation for back pay and overtime wages.

Our Orlando Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to protecting the rights of employees. We can help determine if a misclassification has occurred in your case and explore your options going forward.

Under federal law, certain qualifications must be met in order for an employee to be considered a manager, including:

  • A guaranteed weekly salary of $455 per week
  • No pay reductions based on the quality or quantity of work in any given week
  • No pay deductions for normal business losses
  • Managers must be responsible for directing the work of at least two employees
  • Managers must be allowed to weigh in on hiring/firing decisions

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After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Paradise Villa Retirement Home Inc. – operator of five South Florida assisted living facilities – has paid $103,389 in back wages to 20 employees for violating minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators concluded that Paradise Villa Retirement Home Inc. inaccurately classified caregivers as independent contractors rather than employees and paid them flat rates per day without regard to the number of hours they actually worked.

This practice resulted in minimum wage violations when those flat rates failed to cover all the hours employees worked at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Overtime violations resulted when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek but were paid only their flat rates with no overtime.

WHD also cited recordkeeping violations when the employer failed to maintain records of the number of hours employees worked.

Misclassifying workers as independent contractors is a very common practice in the workplace. While illegal, some employees elect to engage in these wage theft practices to evade their responsibility to pay workers their legally required wages and benefits.

Is your employer violating your labor rights by misclassifying your job? If your employer is treating you like an independent contractor instead of an employee, our Florida Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton may be able to help.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Whittel & Melton secured an $80,000 settlement for a female bartender who was sexually harassed at an Italian restaurant in Orlando for over two years before being fired after complaining to the restaurant’s owner.

The bartender was regularly asked to go on dates, described to restaurant patrons as single and available to date them, subjected to sexual innuendo, and told to dress “sexy” and “date-ready,” among other things.

Under the settlement, the restaurant must conduct mandatory anti-harassment training for all employees and operate a telephone hotline for employees to report incidents of discrimination and harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can affect both men and women, and may include some of the following actions:

  • Touching an employee or coworker inappropriately
  • Promising a raise or promotion in exchange for sexual or romantic activities
  • Engaging in uninvited “x-rated” conversations
  • Unwarranted provocative gestures

Sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience that not everyone is comfortable talking about. However, if you are experiencing such illegal behavior at work, you do not need to suffer in silence. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know that coming forward with a sexual harassment complaint is not easy. That is why we will be there for you and guide you through the legal process, so that the wrongdoer is held accountable for their unlawful behavior.

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Hundreds of Laser Spine Institute employees who were fired Friday after the company unexpectedly shut down have now filed a federal lawsuit.

Laser Spine Institute announced Friday their doors were closing, and patients had to find new doctors while former employees have to find new jobs.

So far there have been three federal lawsuits filed on behalf of former employees. One of the filings claims the company violated what’s called the WARN Act because they didn’t notify employees of what was happening until the day the company closed.

Under the WARN Act, employees who don’t receive advance notice of the layoff are entitled to 60 days wages and benefits.

Officials from the Laser Spine Institute sent out this statement in response to the lawsuits filed Monday.

“The sudden closing of Laser Spine Institute was an unfortunate and heartbreaking situation.  It’s possible that some employees may not have remembered all of the information that was shared on Friday.  Employees will be paid for the hours they’ve worked and their benefits will be extended according to our normal separation policy.

With respect to the WARN Act, the company’s position is that it’s fully complied with these obligations.  The WARN act notices that have been filed are on file with the state of Florida. Laser Spine Institute intends to defend itself against these allegations.”

The Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act requires that employers give employees 60 days advance written notice of a mass layoff or worksite closing. When employers fail to provide this notice, our Florida Employment Law Attorneys represent employees in class action litigation for damages in federal court.

Congress passed the WARN Act in 1988 to make sure employees receive advance notice of a mass layoff. Your rights under the WARN Act include:

  • The right to a 60 day notice
  • The right to recover wages and benefits
  • The right to receive adequate warning to look for and find a new job
  • The right to an explanation if you don’t receive 60 days notice

You still have rights if your company filed for bankruptcy. In fact, WARN Act claims are considerable and actually take priority over other creditors in bankruptcy court.

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El Grande Supermarket in Tampa will pay $198,039 in back pay and damages after demonstrating great diversity in ways of violating federal pay rules, the U.S. Department of Labor announced.

That money will go to 17 workers, each worker receiving an average of $11,649.35.

The supermarket run got caught with violations in:

▪ Minimum wage: The Department of Labor said El Grande paid one person a flat salary, then watched as that person worked so many hours, the hourly rate didn’t even reach the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

▪ Overtime: The store paid some overtime-eligible people straight time.

▪ Keeping track of pay: The store failed to record cash payments made to workers, and failed to maintain other required payroll records.

As an employee, you have the right to a fair wage as defined by state and federal law. You may also be entitled to overtime pay. If you are concerned that your employer is not paying you the correct amount, or refusing to pay you proper wages, our Tampa Unpaid Wage and Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. Our firm assists employees throughout the Tampa Bay area enforce their right to a fair wage.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, Florida minimum wage is $8.46 an hour. Tipped workers should be paid $5.44 an hour. In regards to overtime pay, all Florida workers must be paid overtime pay of time and a half for any hours worked over 40 during a workweek.

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